In Davos, Israel’s president calls ties with Saudi Arabia key to ending war in Gaza

In Davos, Israel’s president calls ties with Saudi Arabia key to ending war in Gaza
The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum is taking place in Davos from Jan. 15 until Jan. 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
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Updated 19 January 2024
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In Davos, Israel’s president calls ties with Saudi Arabia key to ending war in Gaza

In Davos, Israel’s president calls ties with Saudi Arabia key to ending war in Gaza

DAVOS: Normalizing ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia is a key element of ending the war with Hamas and a gamechanger for the entire Middle East, Israeli President Isaac Herzog said Thursday at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in the Swiss town of Davos.
“It’s still delicate, it’s fragile, and it will take a long time, but I think that it is actually an opportunity to move forward in the world and the region toward a better future,” Herzog said.
It comes days after Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, said on a Davos panel that the kingdom agreed “regional peace includes peace for Israel.” He said Saudi Arabia “certainly” would recognize Israel as part of a larger political agreement.
“But that can only happen through peace for the Palestinians, through a Palestinian state,” he said.
US Secretary Antony Blinken also reiterated in a talk at Davos that a pathway to statehood for Palestinians could help improve Israel’s security and its relations with other countries in the region.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing government, however, are opposed to the concept of a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Herzog, whose ceremonial role is meant to serve as a national unifier, said public support for it is low because traumatized Israelis are focused on their own safety following Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 rampage. He displayed a photo of Kfar Bibas, the youngest Israeli held hostage in Gaza whose first birthday is Thursday.
“When nations come forward and say ‘two-state solution,’ they have to first deal with a preliminary question, which is a core question for human beings: Are we offered real safety?” Herzog said. “Israelis lost trust in the peace process because they could see that terror is glorified by our neighbors.”
Herzog also used the world stage to stress the global implications of Hamas’ attack on Israel, which he said is just one of the proxies of the “empire of evil emanating from Tehran.”
Amid the conflict in Gaza, Iran has taken military action against what it called an Israeli intelligence operation in neighboring Iraq. Iran-backed rebels in Yemen known as Houthis also have upended global shipping by attacking vessels in the Red Sea, triggering a series of retaliatory strikes from the US and Britain.
“The Houthi issue is a number one priority, because it raises the cost of living for every family in the universe, a little tribe of 50,000 people, amassed with the weapons of an empire,” Herzog said.
On Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian insisted Iran’s strike in Iraq, as well as against an alleged militant base in Pakistan, as part of his country’s right to self-defense and accused Israel of “genocide” in its campaign against Hamas, which has killed thousands of Palestinian civilians.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani also condemned the war in Gaza during a Davos talk Thursday, saying “the international community has failed.”
At the same time, Sudani sought to balance Iraq’s position between the United States and Iran during the war and as Iran-backed militias in Iraq have launched near-daily strikes on bases housing US forces in Iraq and Syria, which they have said is in retaliation for Washington’s backing of Israel.
Sudani said Iraq has “interests” and “strategic partnerships” with both Iran and the United States. But he did reiterate calls for US-led coalition forces to withdraw from his country, saying their presence is no longer justified because their mission was to fight the Daesh group, which is “no longer a threat to the Iraqi people.”
The Iraqi and Israeli leaders were headliners in Thursday’s flurry of activity in the warren of rooms at the Davos Congress Center in the third day of the gathering of world leaders, corporate titans and other elites.
Other high-profile speakers included OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, who kept his job after a turbulent executive-suite reshuffle late last year.
The four-day confab at Davos has taken up a vast array of topics, not least the concerns about climate change and artificial intelligence that offers economic promise to some and peril to others.
“Artificial intelligence is now undoubtedly the most important potential contribution for global development,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres told reporters Wednesday. But governments are “to a certain extent, ill-equipped, ill-prepared, to deal with this new reality.”
A breakfast panel on the meeting’s sidelines Thursday concentrated on Ukraine’s fight against Russia, a major theme at Davos.
Polish President Andrzej Duda called for the release of confiscated Russian assets in Western banks to help Ukraine, saying $60 billion earmarked for reconstruction of Ukraine by the United States and 50 billion euros by the European Union were “crucial.”
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron urged the EU and US to move forward with stalled aid packages and for allies to remember that together their economies are 25 times bigger than Russia’s.
“All we need to do is make our economic strength show, make it pay, and we will be able to help Ukraine bring this to a conclusion,” said Cameron, who met with Iran’s foreign minister at Davos.
The husband of US Vice President Kamala Harris, Doug Emhoff, was jetting in Thursday to discuss combating antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate.

 


Thousands gather in Iran in show of support for attack on Israel

Iranian demonstrators attend an anti-Israeli gathering in front of the British Embassy in Tehran, Iran, April 14, 2024. (REUTERS
Iranian demonstrators attend an anti-Israeli gathering in front of the British Embassy in Tehran, Iran, April 14, 2024. (REUTERS
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Thousands gather in Iran in show of support for attack on Israel

Iranian demonstrators attend an anti-Israeli gathering in front of the British Embassy in Tehran, Iran, April 14, 2024. (REUTERS
  • Israel has killed more than 33,686 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry
  • Iran does not recognize Israel, and the two countries have fought a shadow war for years

TEHRAN: Thousands of Iranians took to the streets of Iran early Sunday in a show of support for the unprecedented drone and missile attack under way against arch foe Israel.
“Death to Israel!” and “Death to America!” chanted demonstrators in Tehran’s Palestine Square shortly after the Revolutionary Guards announced the launch of Operation Honest Promise.
A mural saying “the next slap is fiercer” was unveiled in the square where a huge banner has hung for days calling, in Hebrew, for Israelis to “take shelter.”
On Sunday, demonstrators waved Iranian and Palestinian national flags alongside banners reading “God’s victory is near.”
Iran’s attack came in retaliation for an April 1 strike that levelled the five-story consular annexe of the Iranian embassy in Damascus and killed seven Revolutionary Guards, two of them generals.
Tehran has since vowed to avenge the strike which was widely blamed on Israel.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pledged that the “evil (Israeli) regime will be punished.”

Iranian media described the attack on Israel as “complex” as it also involved Iranian allies in Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.
“This attack did not come from Iran only, and this regime (Israel) is being punished from four directions,” the Tasnim news agency said.
A large crowd of demonstrators gathered outside the British embassy in Tehran.
Supporters of the retaliatory attack also demonstrated in Iran’s third largest city Isfahan where Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi, one of the generals killed in the Damascus strike, is buried.
Demonstrators also gathered near the grave in the southern city of Kerman of prominent Guards commander Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a 2020 US drone strike in Baghdad.
Tehran had earlier appealed to Washington to keep out of its conflict with Israel but Iranian hopes were dashed after a Pentagon official confirmed that US forces were shooting down Israel-bound drones.
Iran insists it acted in “self-defense” after the targeting of its diplomatic mission in Damascus. It said it hoped its action would prompt no further escalation and “the matter can be deemed concluded.”

The latest developments took place against the backdrop of the Gaza war which began with Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel which killed 1,170 people, mostly civilians.
Tehran backs Hamas but has denied any direct involvement in its attack on Israel.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 33,686 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.
Iran does not recognize Israel, and the two countries have fought a shadow war for years.
Anticipation of conflict with Israel had gripped Iran ever since the April 1 strike on its consulate.
“It is better to reach a compromise so that the war does not begin, and innocent people don’t die,” said Maryam, a 43-year-old private sector worker.
“God willing, our government will favor reason over emotion,” said Salehi, a 75-year-old retired government employee in central Tehran.
Ehsan, a 43-year-old university professor, said it was “logical” to retaliate.
“War is always bad and worrying — a person who has experienced war would never support it, but sometimes to achieve peace, a war is necessary,” he added.
 

 


UN Security Council to meet on Sunday to discuss Iran attacks on Israel

UN Security Council to meet on Sunday to discuss Iran attacks on Israel
Updated 4 min 3 sec ago
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UN Security Council to meet on Sunday to discuss Iran attacks on Israel

UN Security Council to meet on Sunday to discuss Iran attacks on Israel
  • Israel requested the meeting, urging council to condemn Iran and designate IRGC as a terror organization
  • Iran blamed its retaliatory attack on the council’s failure to condemn Israel’s strike on its Damascus consulate

NEW YORK: The UN Security Council is set to hold an emergency meeting on Sunday afternoon in New York to discuss Iran’s attack on Israel, the Maltese presidency of the council has announced.

Iran has on Saturday launched dozens of drones and missiles at Israel in a retaliatory attack after an Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus which killed seven revolutionary guards, including two generals. Iran had warned that Israel would be "punished" for the strike, which took place on April 1st.

The Security council meeting was requested by Israel’s permanent representative to the UN to “unequivocally condemn Iran for these grave violations and immediately act to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization.”

In a letter to the Maltese ambassador, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the council for the month of April, Gilad Erdan called the attack “a severe and dangerous escalation” adding that the gravity and volume of the attacks are unprecedented, and are a flagrant violation of Israel’s sovereignty, of international law, and of Security council resolution.

“Iran poses a direct threat to international peace, and brazenly violates the UN charter and security council resolutions. The time has come for the security council to take concrete action against the Iranian threat.”

Iran’s permanent mission to the UN had posted on X that “had the UN Security Council condemned the Zionist regime’s reprehensible act of aggression on our diplomatic premises in Damascus and subsequently brought to justice its perpetrators, the imperative for Iran to punish this rogue regime might have been obviated.”

The mission described Saturday’s attacks as “an invocation of Article 51 of the UN Charter.”

It said the retaliatory attacks occurred following a 13-day period marked by the Security Council’s “inaction and silence, coupled with its failure to condemn the Israeli regime’s aggressions. Certain countries’ precipitous condemnation of Iran’s exercise of its legitimate right suggests a reversal of roles, equating the victim with the criminal.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned “the serious escalation represented by the large-scale attack launched on Israel by the Islamic Republic of Iran this evening,” and called for an immediate cessation of such hostilities. He said neither the region nor the world can afford another war.

“I am deeply alarmed about the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation,” said the UN chief in a statement as he urged “all parties to exercise maximum restraint to avoid any action that could lead to major military confrontations on multiple fronts in the Middle East.”

 
"I have repeatedly stressed that neither the region nor the world can afford another war," he added.

 


Egypt air defenses on maximum alert: media

Egypt air defenses on maximum alert: media
Updated 14 April 2024
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Egypt air defenses on maximum alert: media

Egypt air defenses on maximum alert: media
  • The Egyptian foregn ministry said it was “deeply concerned” by the events, and called for “maximum restraint” by all sides

CAIRO: Egypt’s air defenses were on “maximum alert” Sunday after Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Israel, a TV channel close to the intelligence services reported, as Cairo warned against an escalation of the conflict.
“A crisis cell ... is closely monitoring the situation and submitting reports to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi hour by hour,” Al-Qahera News said late Saturday, citing a senior security official.
The Egyptian foregn ministry said it was “deeply concerned” by the events, and called for “maximum restraint” by all sides.
Warning of the risk of a “regional expansion of the conflict,” the ministry said in a statement that it was “in direct contact with all the parties to the conflict to try to contain the situation.”
Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October, Cairo has sought to walk a delicate tightrope between showing solidarity with the Palestinians while also maintaining its ties with Israel.
It has also hosted several rounds of negotiations seeking to agree a truce in the six-month war.


Iran and Israel: From allies to deadly enemies

Iran and Israel: From allies to deadly enemies
Updated 14 April 2024
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Iran and Israel: From allies to deadly enemies

Iran and Israel: From allies to deadly enemies
  • Israel has killed more than 33,600 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry

PARIS: Israel and Iran have moved from once being firm allies to sworn enemies.
Here is a recap of their volatile relationship over the past half century.

Israel, following its creation in 1948, had close ties with Iran, which becomes the second Muslim country to recognize the Jewish state after Turkiye.
They become allies under the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. At the time, Iran was home to the biggest Jewish community in the Middle East.
The new Jewish state imported 40 percent of its oil from Iran in exchange for weapons, technology and agricultural produce.
Israel’s Mossad spy agency helped train the shah’s feared Savak secret police.

The 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran toppled the shah, dramatically ending the friendship between the two states.
Israel did not recognize the new Islamic Republic.
The ayatollahs considered Israel illegal occupiers of Jerusalem. Informal commercial links remained in place, however.
Islamic Jihad became the first Islamist Palestinian organization to take up arms against Israel in 1980, with Iran as its main backer.
Nonetheless, Israel sent Tehran around 1,500 missiles to help it fight Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war that raged from 1980 to 1988.

Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 to counter Palestinian groups based there, going all the way to briefly hold the capital Beirut.
Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps subsequently backed the creation of militant group Hezbollah, which waged a campaign against Israeli forces from Shiite strongholds in southern Lebanon.
Israel blamed Hezbollah for attacks abroad, including in Argentina, where the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy killed 29 people and a 1994 attack on a Jewish community center left 85 dead.

Tensions rose after the election in 2005 of ultra conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who talked on several occasions of bringing an end to Israel and described the Holocaust as a “myth.”
Iran resumed uranium enrichment at Isfahan the same year.
When the Iran nuclear deal was brokered by world powers in 2015, Netanyahu slammed it as an “historic mistake.”
He was the first to congratulate then-US president Donald Trump when he withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018.
Iran has since resumed uranium enrichment.

Officially still at war with Syria, Israel claimed to want to stay out of the civil war that broke out in 2011 and still simmers.
But from 2013 on, Israel — wary of Hezbollah and Iran’s presence on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad — carried out hundreds of air strikes against them in Syria.

Israel began cultivating ties with long-time foe Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main religious and regional rival.
In September 2020 Saudi allies the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed normalization accords with Israel.
The Unites States sought Israel-Saudi rapprochement, but the efforts were derailed by the Gaza War.

Over the following months Israel accused Iran of attacks on vessels. Iran accused Israel of targeted assassinations and the sabotage of the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.
Israel was blamed for targeted attacks on Iranians in Syria, including top members of the Revolutionary Guard in 2022 and 2023.
An Israeli airstrike on Iran’s consular annex building in Damascus on April 1, 2024 killed more than a dozen people — including two senior members of the Revolutionary Guards.
US President Joe Biden warned that Iran was “threatening to launch a significant attack on Israel,” promising Israel “ironclad” support.
On April 13 — two weeks after the unprecedented attack on its consular facilities — Iran responded by sending waves of drones from its territory toward Israel, which closed its airspace, as did Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s air defense systems were deployed and that it was prepared for a “direct attack from Iran.”

 


Israel puts Golan, Nevatim, Dimona, Eilat residents on impact standby

Israel puts Golan, Nevatim, Dimona, Eilat residents on impact standby
Updated 14 April 2024
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Israel puts Golan, Nevatim, Dimona, Eilat residents on impact standby

Israel puts Golan, Nevatim, Dimona, Eilat residents on impact standby
  • Israel has a nuclear reactor on the outskirts of Dimona

JERUSALEM: Israel’s military put the northern part of the occupied Golan Heights as well as Nevatim, Dimona and Eilat on standby for possible impact from Iranian drone launches early on Sunday, instructing residents to stay close to bomb shelters.
The Golan was captured from Syria in a 1967 war. Nevatim is the site of an Israeli air base. Israel has a nuclear reactor on the outskirts of Dimona. Eilat is Israel’s southern Red Sea port, which has come under repeated attack by Yemen’s Houthis.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army said it sounded sirens in a kibbutz near the Lebanon border early Sunday, after Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Israel.
"Sirens sounded in Kibbutz Snir, northern Israel," the army said in a statement.